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New testing for foot and mouth disease in buffaloes

Date Published: 17 Feb, 2012
New testing for foot and mouth disease in buffaloes

KWS and the Ministry of Livestock Development will next week start an extensive foot and mouth disease surveillance in buffaloes in the Maasai Mara, Laikipia and Tsavo areas.

 
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Ministry of Livestock Development will next week start an extensive foot and mouth disease surveillance in buffaloes in the Maasai Mara, Laikipia and Tsavo areas.
These areas are known to have extensive wildlife-livestock interaction, hence possible disease transmission between them. The three-week exercise will begin in the Maasai Mara National Reserve and its environs in Narok County from Monday (February 20, 2012). This will be followed by Laikipia-Samburu ecosystem and finally Tsavo.
To capture the buffaloes for testing, KWS veterinarians dart the buffaloes with chemicals and take samples of blood and other samples to be submitted to a government foot and mouth disease laboratory in Embakasi, Nairobi, for analysis.
A total of 80 buffaloes are targeted for sampling, with about 25 – 30 buffaloes sampled in each area. The whole exercise is estimated to cost Kshs. 1.6 million and supported by the government laboratory. 
Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic mammals and wildlife, the disease is caused by viruses. The disease is still endemic in Kenya with five of the seven globally known serotypes prevalent in varying proportions in domestic and wild mammals of Kenya.

It is one of the most infectious trans-boundary animal diseases that causes major socio-economic losses due to high mortality in young animals, high morbidity, loss of livestock production and most significantly, hamper international trade in livestock and animal products.

The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) plays an exceptional role as it can be persistently infected and act as maintenance host for the SAT (Southern African Territories) serotypes. Individual buffaloes can carry viruses for up to five years and isolated herds can maintain the infection for more than 10 years during which it can be transmitted to livestock.

The infection of buffaloes rarely results in clinical signs but persistently infected buffaloes can act as carriers and are able to transmit the virus to other animals, including livestock, when they come into contact, even though the mechanisms of transmission are not well understood.

It is, therefore, important to enhance the understanding of disease spread at the wildlife-livestock interface so as to address concerns about the impact of disease and ensure that appropriate policies and control measures are implemented. Adequate control of foot and mouth disease will improve livestock production and support healthy ecosystems.

This research project will greatly enhance understanding of the current foot and mouth disease situation and the contribution of the wildlife-livestock interface in the distribution of the disease.

Laikipia, Narok and Kajiado areas have been ear-marked by the Vision 2030 development blueprint to become disease free-zones in the next 18 years.  Active disease surveillance in wildlife is one of the key activities towards attaining disease-free status in these areas.

The surveillance will be done by KWS team comprising of veterinarians and laboratory technologists working together with a team of veterinarians from the Embakasi foot and mouth laboratory. 



 

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